Brooklyn symposium
By: Member discussion

Jan 1 , 2002

Our January meeting was devoted to Brooklyn as a symposium as no one was willing to serve as seminar leader. It brought quite exuberant responses from the attendees who kept interrupting each other with reminiscences and comments on the covers shown. Several corner card examples of the Hotel St. George were shown and they elicited the most comment. This hotel was known as the largest in the United States, cover two full blocks. It also was theJanuary2002page5 subject of one of New York’s major fires in 1995-a 16-alarm fire that brought fire companies from as far away as the Bronx and from every borough except Staten Island. Most of the participants remembered the large swimming pool in the hotel, an Olympic-sized pool. There was much discussion over the Williamsburg postmarks as there are two towns of that name in New York. However, the Livingston county town had no postoffice after 1823, six years before the Brooklyn Williamsburg office was erected.

While Albany was the first locale settled in New York State (Castle Island in 1540, resettled as Fort Nassau in 1614), the settlements in New York City occurred in 1624 when Walloon families came over. Settlement was made at Nut Island (Governor’s Island today) and farms set up on Manhattan south of Wall St. Reportedly the first child born in New York was Sarah Rapelje on June 9, 1625 at Wallabout (Walloon Bay) Brooklyn. While Brooklyn was on the post route south to Philadelphia in colonial times, no postoffices were erected until 1803. A private postman, Seymour Dunbar, operated earlier from the Brooklyn ferry out to the Long Island towns in the 1798 period. Brooklyn is part of Kings County, which was erected November 1, 1683. The postoffices to 1852 are:

Town, First Postmaster, First Returns

Brooklyn, P. Buffit 7/1/03
Flatbush, Abraham VanDerveer 8/16/14
Williamsburg, Lewis Sanford 2/10/29
Fort Hamilton, Benjamin R. Pierce 2/16/33
East New York, Edwin Strong 1/23/38
New Utrecht, William Cropsey 1/23/39
Gravesend, Martin Schoonmaker 12/20/45
Flatlands, John Hendricksen 6/10/47
Green Point, James Harris 7/14/49
Canarsie, Owen Jones 9/29/52